On 1/31/07, charles.r.matthews(a)ntlworld.com <charles.r.matthews(a)ntlworld.com>
Marc Riddell wrote
I have been
doing minor editing in WP for a year now and, time permitting, would
participate more actively in the project. And,
like anything a person is
considering becoming a part of, I want to get a sense of its beliefs and
My work and passion has been, is now, and probably always will be,
and their interactions. That is why this issue is
so important to me.
An argument I have produced before, is that bad language and
aggressiveness as a routine form of interaction appeals mostly to the young
and male. It happens that males 20 to 25 might be the most significant group
here. I think it is also the case that such forms of verbal interaction and
self-assertion are likely to put off many other demographic groups. So
civility policy is one way of trying to broaden the base of contributors, or
to retain people who profile is not a good match to those who think freedom
of speech is mostly about the right to be f****** rude all the time.
I totally agree with this; being civil is a good way of ensuring that you're
trying to interact in a positive manner with all possible types of
contributors. Online, you never know who's on the receiving end of your
comments: what their background is, what their beliefs are, or how they'll
take something you'll say.
As for free speech, the vast majority of the time it's possible to get ideas
across either politely or offensively. I can say "I don't agree with this
policy, and here's why <list of thoughtful reasons here>"; or I can resort
to Godwin's law: "people who support this policy are nazis and fuckheads!"
Generally, the former should carry more weight. That's not about free
speech; it's about being coherent and respectful of other people (both their
time and their intelligence); we are, as Charles said, colleagues here
trying to get work done on a project. This isn't (shouldn't be?) a forum for
acting out simply because you can*.
* unless maybe the end result is really, really entertaining.